feminity, fertility

In non-western cultures, female effigies often incarnate ancestors.

In connection with the spirit world, of which they are guardians, they also represent goddess-mothers or goddesses who can be wild, protective, bearers of wisdom, noble or hieratic, graceful or sensual, and which are usually symbols of fertility.

With regard to the portrayal of motherhood, a recurring theme in African art, this refers to the idea of continuing the family or clan lineage, and to the transmission of knowledge.

  • Hooks

  • Anthropomorphic sculpture

  • Commemorative effigy

  • Ceremonial cloth

  • A Maam man attacking a pregnant woman

  • Statuette depicting a mother and her child

  • Statuette depicting the goddess Kankalinmata

  • Manasa, the goddess of snakes

  • Anthropomorphic mask

  • Anthropo-zoomorphic mask

  • Motherhood

  • Motherhood

  • Helmet mask

  • Female statuette

  • Cup bearer

  • Shadow puppet, Sita under her tree

  • Ritual doll

  • Chalchiuhtlicue

  • Anthropomorphic statuette: motherhood

  • Hunchback female figurine

  • Female figurine

Female figurine

Female figurine

Female figurine, Valdivia culture, Ecuador, province of Guayas, 4000-3000 B.C, terra cotta, gift of Frédéric Engel, 71.1998.41.1

Valdivia female figurines constitute the oldest form of visual art in the Americas. They are generally composed of two cylinders placed together, one depicting the torso, the other the legs. The narrow face is topped with cap-like hair. The arms are flat along the length of the trunk or are clasped across the torso under the large breasts. The pubis is sometimes indicated by incisions in the clay. The majority of these figurines are incomplete or broken, it would seem, intentionally. Some researchers therefore think that they were made for a single use and then broken or discarded. The large number of them is evidence of their frequent use, perhaps for fecundity rituals.